As I sit in the plane bound for Lima Peru via Miami Florida I find myself recounting the last three years.
God first called me to this mission in 2012. Our church decided to start exploring the international mission field and we teamed up with a great group of people from LifePoint Church in Columbus Ohio. They were gracious enough to bring us along on a mission trip they had been growing for a few years at that time. I remember The Lords voice clearly in my head the day we announced it. This voice said “get ready, you’re going”. To which I replied “uh, what?” We can’t afford that. I’d love to be able to say I anxiously jumped at the call but alas, I did not. But He continued to tell me I was going on this trip.
A few days later after the voice had persisted I had a conversation with my wife that went something like this,
me: “I think I’m supposed to go on this Peru trip”
her: “we can’t afford that”
me: “I know right! That’s what I keep telling Him. But I’m sure this is what He’s telling me so if it’s supposed to happen the He’ll make it so.”
And through a course of amazing events He made it happen.
In 2013 our church committed to return. I already knew I’d be returning since The Lord may that perfectly clear to me after the first trip. That year I would be co-leading the team with an awesome brother in Christ, Steve Clifton, from LifePoint church that had led our team in 2012. Another great trip and God experience ensued.
Now it’s 2014. My third trip to Peru in three years. This time I find myself leading our team on our own. I have a healthy mixture of fear and excitement brewing inside me. I’m excited and anxious to see how God has worked in the lives of the growing group of believers we’ve encountered over the last two years. I’m excited and anxious to see how God will work in the lives of our team this year. I know that we will find a growing thriving body of believers that is as on fire as when we last saw them.i know this because it what we have prayed for. I am confident in God’s equipping of our hearts and minds in helping to love on and build up the people we will encounter. I know that He has our back and through Him alone we can and will help to grow His Kingdom in the mountains of Peru.
Sounds kind of cocky doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is… But, when our amazing God is at the center of things and we speak the truth of the Good News in love and compassion, how can you not get a little cocky. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean in an arrogant or self-confident way but with a full reliance in Him and His ability to do anything. I mean He is God!
So, all that being said please be in prayer that we can stay out of the way and He will work in us and through us this year. I’ll get back with you after next week and tell you all about the amazing work He is doing and how we saw it all unfolding to His glory.
I think its sad sometimes that when someone makes a commitment to follow Christ that we don’t offer them a class in how to pray. It may seem too basic or simple but I think it’s an important piece of our spiritual maturity that is often overlooked or just assumed.
Knowing how to pray is not that easy sometimes. It can be intimidating, daunting, scary… “what if I say something dumb… wrong… unbiblical…” In Luke, chapter 11, the disciples asked Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray…” He then gave them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. But before we get to that in Matthew 6:5-8 he gives a little more pre-instruction.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“
Basically, what He is saying here is we need to have the right mind-set or heart-set not only for what we are praying for but how and why we are praying. Don’t be boastful or prideful in our prayers proclaiming our great works or sinlessness so that others can see how holy we are. The only one that could even claim this was Jesus and even He did not pray that way. So, prepare yourself or your heart for prayer.
As we’ll see, it’s not so much the words spoken as the the motivation for speaking them. There are no magic words. You also don’t have to use big confusing words or King James English. You don’t have to use your “prayer voice.” Just pray, from the heart.
Jesus then says: “This, then, is how you should pray:” He doesn’t say word for word but “HOW” as in here is a model for you to design your prayers around.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” -Luke 11:2-4 KJV
So let’s break this down.
“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name…” This set the stage for us. We first need to proclaim and acknowledge God’s rightful place. Above all else He is first and foremost. Hallowed means to honor as holy or consider sacred.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Here’s where things get a little tough for us. Before we even ask anything we have to realize God has a plan that is bigger than all of us and that plan has a direction. What this really means is no matter what I pray for, not my will but Your will be done. That’s a hard one to say and mean. Because God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them answered. Don’t misunderstand me here, He always answers prayers. His answers are either yes, no or wait. Now, of course, yes is the easy one I’m not even going to talk about that. No, that one’s certainly hard to take. We want that illness to go away, we want people healed, hurts mended, problems fixed but that just might not be God’s will. In the end, He knows what is best and how things should and will work out so in order for His will to be done sometimes the answer has to be no. And wait? well that one certainly stinks too but it all happens in His timing not ours. Gods will comes before our want.
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Ok, finally the good stuff! The “gimmes.” We usually get this one in the wrong order. We want to say “Father in heaven, gimme my daily bread…” but our wants need to take their proper place because remember “Thy will be done…” not “my will be done…” Notice too He says “day by day” or sometimes it’s “this day” Keep it simple, “Lord, here’s what’s on my heart right now…” Here’s a little hint though, He already knows what weighs heavy on our hearts I think sometimes He just wants us to say it so that we realize it too. Stating it sometimes makes it more real for us. I know I have a tendency to kind of sweep things under the rug or ignore the elephant in the room. So, “here is what I’m asking, Lord”
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Now the first part here is pretty obvious the second part is yet another thing we often forget. We are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. That’s a tough one to remember but probably more important than asking His forgiveness for sins He has already forgiven by dying on the cross for us in the first place.
“And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God will not lead us into temptation as we commonly think of it. The word temptation can also mean trial or affliction and we will be met with trials and sometimes afflictions along the way and we need to pray for protection against them or the strength to avoid temptations/trials/afflictions. A strength that can only come from God. And through this strength we will be delivered from the evil that can drag us into embracing that temptation.
So, there we go. Keep this in mind when you pray as a model for what, when and how to say it and you may find more focus in your prayer life. I feel like I have.
Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.
I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.
(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.
Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.
I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.
Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.
So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)
The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.
Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.
I have often heard the following statements, or something similar: “The church should provide for others, the church should help the poor and unfortunate, the church should be a safe haven for others, the church should teach about God’s word, the church needs to welcome people, the church needs to love people.” I’m sure you have a list of your own and have heard many other ideas of what the church should do. I have to say I COULDN’T AGREE MORE to most of these.
The problem lies in the definition of church. So here’s a little pop-quiz. I know I didn’t give you time to study, sorry. From the definitions of church below, taken from dictionary.com which would Jesus say is the correct answer:
a.) A building for public Christian worship.
b.) Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
c.) The clerical profession or calling: After much study and contemplation, he was prepared to enter the church.
d.) The church is a body of believers.
Now let’s keep in mind that dictionary.com or anything else on the internet are not the best way to gather knowledge however this seems to be where we learn from these days. This information is a representation of what is being taught or what has already been learned in the world today. The dictionary people don’t just make this stuff up as they see fit. They poll people and research with “experts” to determine the best definition(s) possible. So, where did they get this from? US. We (followers of Christ) have allowed these definitions to creep in and define us. We have taken on these views and definitions of church. We have twisted and perverted church into something it is not supposed to be.
Before we go any further, let me be clear. I’m not talking about the way we worship on Sundays or any other time your body chooses to worship. That is not church. Church is not a “DO”. Church is a “BE”. We should BE church.
By the way, if you didn’t catch it yet d.) should have been the correct answer. A church is a body of believers. Yes, it’s that simple. Now a body is designed for motion or activity. What happens to a sedentary body? It gets fat and it grows weak. A body that is not doing what it is designed for eventually becomes ineffective.
So where do you fit here? Do you “DO” church on the weekends or when its convenient or are you the hands and feet of Jesus? Christ commands and commissions us in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” While the Bible never specifically says we are to be “hands and feet” it does does call us (followers of Christ, the church) to go out and preach the gospel and with the words “go into” comes action… and with action we use our hands and feet. If our “body” is in motion it is doing what it was designed to do.
So with the same thinking where does your “church” fall? Does your church “go into the world”? Does it “GO” anywhere other than into a building at the designated times of worship? Well if not you should leave, right? Well, don’t start packing your bags just yet. Remember we’re using the Biblical definition of church. So if you are a part of this body of believers, aren’t you in part responsible for it’s actions? I don’t mean responsible as in to blame for its inaction but responsible to the body to be a part of and facilitate action. The body is at fault, right? You are a part of the body, right? It starts with you. Please, please, please don’t just leave the church/body of which you are a part. See if you, as part of that body can enact change, if it needs to happen. Find other parts of your body to help out. Work together to figure out how to carry this out. If you start this others will come along, trust me. Now if you meet resistance from within and just can’t move things in the direction of Christ then and only then should you consider a move. Just because things aren’t happening your way is not a good reason to leave a body either. If there is movement and momentum and it is in the direction of Jesus, then join in and be a part.
You need to answer the call God has sent to you. What is the burden on your heart? How can you be an effective part of an effective body?
Well, first and foremost, prayer. You need to pray about what your particular piece of God’s “mission” is. Second, carry it out to the best of your ability. Third, pray more. Pray that God will work in you and through you, that He will use you beyond what you are capable of and into the realm of what He is capable of. I believe the results will be amazing.
Want to learn more about GOing with the body (The Ridge) that I belong to? Contact me at email@example.com. Want to learn more about starting a movement with your own body? Contact me. I’d love to help you figure it out and get started. Also, check out “Barefoot Church” by Brandon Hatmaker and “Missional Moves” by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. Two awesome resources for inspiration and motivation. These two books have rock my world and pour gasoline on the fire God ignited in me this year.
Dear friends and family,
I’d like to share with you a new way that God has chosen to use me. It is through a trip that I am going to take that will hopefully be a life changing experience for the people I come in contact with, as well as myself.
Can you envision a land where poverty, hardship, hunger and a lack of resources both spiritually and physically keep many from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I want to share with you a challenging ministry opportunity God has presented to me. During August 4th -11th, I will be going to Peru with a team from The Ridge Church and LifePoint Church. Our one-week trip will focus on coming along side the people of a few small villages in Peru to help them both spiritually and materially. If we can help strengthen and encourage these people then they will be better equipped to carry on the Gospel when we leave. We will be allowing God to work in our lives through the personal enrichment that comes from this type of a mission trip. I’m certain God will change my life greatly as a result of stepping out to serve Him in this important area.
I’m so excited about the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead. This trip is a calling that has been heavy on my heart for some time now and I believe God will use me and the others on this trip in a mighty way. I hope you see the value in what we will accomplish. As you can imagine, a trip like this requires financial support from a number of people. In order to go on this mission trip I need to raise $1,200 by July 1st. If you can support me in a financial way, I would be very grateful. Any money raised above this amount will be donated to help some of the others on the team to meet their goal. And, most importantly, I also need your prayer support. Prayer is the fuel that will allow us to be successful as we follow God’s leading in our ministry in Peru. Without prayer, little, or nothing will happen.
Thank you so much for prayerfully considering if this is something you’d like to participate in. May God bless you for your time and support.
It always fascinates me when an author can take such a large subject and successfully pack it into a short book and still slam home the point so well. Andy Stanley has certainly done this with When Work and Family Collide. This is such an important, but frequently ignored, topic and such a typical trap that we all fall into at times, especially in an era and culture where we have more jockeying for our time and attention than at any other time in history.
Andy does a great job of laying out the ways this can manifest itself in our lives. Then he nails us with what some may consider a shocking conclusion to the balance we all try to achieve between work, home and everything else that is competing for our time and attention. I’ll leave it up to you to find out what that is by reading the book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I wish I had discovered it earlier in life but I certainly plan to pass it on to others and to use its contents with those I offer counsel.
FTC DISCLAIMER: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.
When we get married, our vision for marriage is a to have a covenant relationship. We are making a promise. We recite vows. We promise to be there. We promise to love unconditionally. We promise in sickness and in health. We are not signing a contract, we are making a promise. We are reciting a covenant that comes from the depth of our heart. This covenant feels right. This covenant feels holy. This covenant feels ordained.
But something happens to most marriages over time. The unconditional love we promised, starts being conditional. The list of things we loved about our spouse slowly drifts to a list of things that irritate us. We aren’t getting what we are putting in. This isn’t what we signed up for. This isn’t what we agreed to. Our covenant relationship has slowly become a contractual agreement.
Here are some signs your marriage is more of a contract than a covenant:
You are so disappointed in who your spouse is that you compare them with someone else. You wish they were more handy like so and so’s husband. You wish they could cook like so and so’s wife. You compare them with someone you work with…they don’t listen that well, understand you that much. The comparison game is a dangerous one to play.
2. If-Then Relationship
You will take out the trash if she will do the laundry. You will pick up the kids from school if she will let get off your back about going golfing. There are conditions attached to sexual intimacy. Conditions attached to time spent together. You keep score and you usually win. No one wins in the if-then marriage. You can never do enough.
3. Walking on Egg-Shells
When you are in a contractual marriage you are constantly worried about starting a fight. You walk on egg shells when you get home from work. You walk on egg shells on the weekends. You’re goal is to get through a day, a weekend, a week without an argument. You know your spouses hot buttons and do everything you can to not push them.
4. Score Keeping
In a contractual marriage you always know the score. You know how many times you’ve served them; you’ve given in; you’ve said you’re sorry; you’ve not gotten you way. You keep score of purchases; arguments and times you’ve given something against your will. Your desire isn’t to experience intimacy with your spouse, but to win the score keeping game. (There is no winner in a score keeping marriage.)
God’s vision for your marriage is a covenant not a contract. He longs to have your relationship with your spouse mirror His relationship with you. When you least deserved it, He sacrificed for you. A covenant is an unconditional promise that has no end.
Maybe the best thing you can do for your marriage today is evaluate which type of relationship you have and which type do you want to have.